Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

in Action, Dick Flicks, Drama

Dick Flick Pick

  • Stars:  Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman
  • Director:  Kevin Reynolds
  • Writers:  Pen Densham & John Watson


I may be in the minority, but I love this movie, flaws and all.

Everyone knows the story of Robin Hood, played in this version by Kevin Costner, so only a snippet of synopsis is required:  He steals from the rich, he gives to the poor, he’s been banished by Prince John and is adored and aided by just about everyone else.  Screenwriters Pen Densham and John Watson give us some of everything here, a bit of origin story, a lively bout with the familiar characters, a good dose of honest thievery and flying arrows, and a few novel twists, among them Morgan Freeman’s Moor Azeem.

Densham and Watson’s script launches from a surprisingly dark milieu, a hellish medieval dungeon and torture chamber.  It is here that Robin of Locksley connects with Azeem to escape back to England, and if that was a spoiler, you’ve been living under a rock.  As the Merry Men gradually assemble to battle injustice, director Kevin Reynolds skillfully guides us through a crazy roller coaster of moods, hitting the action, romance, comedy, and even gratuitous (male) nudity buttons equally.

From Costner’s steadfast Robin Hood to Christian Slater’s brooding Will Scarlett to Alan Rickman’s delicious Sheriff of Nottingham, there are men of all flavors for women to drool over.  Freeman is ever-reliable as what could easily have been the Magical Negro Sidekick, often providing the biggest belly laughs with his dry delivery.  And Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is a feisty, spunky, kick-ass Maid Marian.  Unfortunately, as with so many so-called strong female characters, she’s only allowed to kick ass up to a point.  She still gets captured, she still needs rescuing, and she still screams like, well, like a girl.  But at least she’s no wilting daisy, and she can fight right alongside the boys.

Is it a dick flick?  Most assuredly.  Costner and Freeman carry the film, and everyone else, including Marian, is an essential but supporting character.  In fact, nearly the only other woman in the entire film is a shrewish witchy villain, a female archetype if ever there was one.

There is an element of cheese, and the drastic mood shifts give the movie a touch of uneveness.  Nevertheless, Reynolds’ rollicking direction and Watson and Densham’s pen (I’ve waited twenty years to say that) capture the spirit of the legend, and the lush locales will make you want to roll through the English countryside.  Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves does quite effectively what good movies are supposed to do:  it entertains and amuses with colorful characters, witty quotables, and a priceless uncredited cameo that is pure Hollywood.

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